Professionalizing IT: Quality from within
By Rutger Gooszen
What do a building architect, lawyer, general practitioner and chartered accountant have in common? On the face of it, not much. But if you look more closely, they have all undergone mandatory and recognized training and have had to qualify to use their title. That title is protected and enshrined in law. They submit to a professional code and disciplinary law. In other words, their clients know what to expect and can complain about professional performance if they are not satisfied.
How different is it in the rapidly growing world of consultants in the field of computerization and automation. There is a wide range of training, accredited or otherwise. There are many professional groups operating with their own qualifying terms and sometimes a code of conduct. But there is no disciplinary law, nor is there a protected title. You can, of course, choose to hire a reputable agency and just hope they won't put their name on the line. Or you might consider cheaply hiring an army of independents to do the job.
So, as a client, you have fewer assurances about the quality and knowledge of the consultant you ask to draw up some advice for you or bring a project to a successful conclusion in terms of content. Daan Rijsenbrij, renowned architect in the digital world, therefore advocates publishing the names of the client, contractor and architect in large ICT projects, just as in large construction projects. So that you know who is responsible for the realization of projects.
Wouldn't it be nice if as a client, when choosing an ICT consultant/information provision architect, you could be assured that this person:
- Meets the qualifications through targeted certified training and a protected title (registry);
- Maintains his qualifications through mandatory "continuing education" or "experience points";
- Submits to a code of conduct and disciplinary law;
- Provides free and independent advice, without charge or consultation and without any conflict of interest;
- Has a verifiable track record of assignments and experience.
Surely that should be the least we grant our clients?
Of course, there are good and not so good building architects, lawyers, general practitioners and chartered accountants. But they have to jump through hoops on the front end to be allowed to practice their profession and keep up their continuing education. Afterwards you can also hold them accountable for poor performance.
So far, the failing performance in large ICT projects has mainly led to extra scrutiny from the outside in (reporting requirements, gateway review and BIT). As a profession, we should make a better effort to ensure quality from the inside out and meet (self-) imposed standards!
Therefore, in the next post a more extensive article on a joint initiative to initiate this.